Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Graduating Class of 2015

Degrees will be conferred upon 10 senior students during the 25th Commencement Ceremony of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary on May 22, beginning at 6 p.m. The graduation program will be held at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, 2519 Woodruff Rd., Simpsonville, S.C. A reception will follow. The public is invited.

Dr. David W. Hall, senior pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church in Powder Springs, Ga., will deliver the commencement address.

A banquet for the graduates and their families will be held on May 21 at the seminary Student Commons.

Meet the Class of 2015:

Richard C. Crandall III. M.A.

Hometown: Stuart, Fla.
College of Prior Degree: Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach Florida
Spouse: Christie

Memories of GPTSThe wise counsel I received while at GPTS is something I will not soon forget. The advice from faculty and staff went beyond academics into so many areas of my life. Though I began my studies at Greenville as a Master of Divinity student with the desire to enter full time ministry, I realized my gifts and abilities were differently suited; and I became more content finishing with a Masters of Arts degree. I appreciate the time those at the school invested in me. My seminary experience changed from going through the motions of a simple academic exercise to approaching my studies of the living God as a personal devotion to the Lord. Particularly, God has been sanctifying me in order to make me more like Christ.

Plans: Christie and I have just moved to Stuart, Florida and are happy to be worshiping in our home church. I am currently working for a yacht management company operating and detailing sport fishing boats and motor yachts.

* * * * *

John Charles Blevins III, B.Div.

Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
College of Prior Study: Tusculum College, Appalachian State University
Spouse: Taylor
Children: J.C., Benton, and Walker

Memories of GPTS: I have many wonderful memories of the four years my family and I lived in Greenville while I attended seminary. When I consider these memories the prominent theme that jumps out at me is learning. The last four years have been an extremely busy season of the Lord teaching me many important lessons inside and outside of the classroom. The challenge of being a husband and father during full time seminary studies as well as an employee and pastoral intern has taught me much that I will never forget. God has been very gracious in providing for us in ways that I could never have imagined. My prayer is that my family will never forget that the Lord is a faithful God who cares for His children and in love He disciples us through the challenges and the victories.

Plans: I have accepted a call to Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to serve as their associate pastor. My family and I are very excited and humbled that the Lord has been so kind to choose to use me in the gathering and building up of His people at Covenant.

* * * * *

Lowell A. Ivey, B.Div.

Hometown: Dallas, Tex.
College of Prior Study: Alvin Community College, Redeemer Seminary
Spouse: Mae
Children: Geneva, Titus

Memories of GPTS: I will never regret my decision to study at GPTS. While I am thankful to the Lord for the Seminary's faithfulness to Scripture, its unwavering confessional integrity, its high academic standards, and its emphasis on exegetical preaching, I think I have been most profoundly influenced by the authentic godliness of the men under whom I have learned. Through these men, I have grown both in my love for Jesus Christ and in my desire to serve Him as an ambassador of the kingdom of God. While in some sense I feel less prepared than ever for the work of the ministry, I am far more confident that the Spirit of God will equip and empower whomever He calls.

Plans: Beginning in July, I look forward to serving as a year-long intern at Covenant Community OPC in Taylors, S.C. — the congregation that has lovingly nurtured my family during our Seminary years.

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Thomas B. Van Maanen, B.Div.

Hometown: Woodstock, Ontario
Spouse: Alexandra
Children: Stephen, Ruth, Michael, Aaron (all married). 9 grandchildren

Memories of GPTS: My journey in Seminary education started quite some time ago (8 yrs.) when I took an intensive course on the Reformed Pastor with Pastor Bill Shishko. As one dear brother said: I had dessert  long before I had dinner. Pastor Shishko certainly was instrumental in whetting my appetite for a Seminary education, and thus I began the distance program for my ‘Master of Ministry for Ruling Elders’ degree. In God’s providence, I developed a love for overseas missions and switched to a full B.Div. program after selling our business and moving to Greenville. Although the languages presented a special challenge I was able to finish my courses and am thankful for all the encouragement, fellowship, and education I received at Greenville in preparing me for future endeavors in the ministry of the Gospel, in the church of Jesus Christ. What the Lord has blessed me with here in solid Reformed/Confessional instruction will be never lost. I am deeply indebted to the faculty and staff for their continued commitment to  biblical, Reformed, Seminary training in preparing men for the glorious task of preaching the Gospel to the world.

Plans: I am currently working on plans to be licensed and ordained in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP Canada) with the focus on laboring in Africa (Malawi in particular) as a foreign missionary, training and teaching pastors and elders there in the Reformed faith.

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Joshua David Cochran, M.Div.

Hometown: Mentor-on-the-Lake, Ohio
College of Prior Degree: Bob Jones Seminary
Spouse: Bethany

Memories of GPTS: No statement provided

Plans: Looking for a call in the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) or Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America

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Kevin Charles Easterday, M.Div.

Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
Spouse: Tina
Children: Kamden, Kolton

Memories of GPTS: I began work at the seminary in the fall of 2003 under the mentor program. I was determined to suck the marrow from the bone, and I guess you could say I've been gnawing on it for quite some time. Doing such work at a distance is quite challenging. There are some major drawbacks to distance education, like not being able to speak to the professors in the hall, or find a book in the library, or have great “iron sharpening iron” moments with students. I have had some of those opportunities during intensive courses, and I always left Greenville with a tear in my eye, relishing the brief moments I’ve been able to be in class physically. I immensely appreciate the work being done here, and thank God for all the faculty and staff.

Plans: To shepherd the flock of God; to endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory; and to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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Timothy Michael Marinelli, M.Div.

Hometown: Yorktown, Va.
College of Prior Degree: Old Dominion University
Spouse: Renita
Children: Adiella, Elijah, Isaiah, Joshua

Memories of GPTS: I am grateful to the Lord for the faculty and staff of GPTS as they have labored for the glory of God in the advancement of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Their labors are not in vain in the Lord!

Plans: It appears that the Lord has provided an opportunity in the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) for me to serve as an associate pastor at Redeemer Reformed Church in Minneapolis, Minn.  The work will involve a 5-year plan of planting another Reformed church within the region of Minneapolis, and I would become the pastor of the new church-plant, Lord willing. We are grateful for this opportunity and beg the grace of Christ without whom we could do nothing.

* * * * *

James Eric McCarthy, M.Div.

Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
College of Prior Degree:  Eckerd College
Spouse: Jordan
Children: Two-year-old Ellie, second child due in October

Memories of GPTS: Theodore Roosevelt said, "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty." GPTS has proven to be not only a trial of faith, but also a heavenly crucible burning white hot with the truth and weight of the Gospel. Though the burden has been heavy, the reward has proven worthy: a deeper appreciation for my dear wife, Jordan, who has been and continues to be my closet friend; two spiritual fathers, Dr. Joseph Pipa and Dr. Rick Phillips, to whom I am lifelong debtor; a truer sense of the gravity of Gospel ministry; the rudimentary skills necessary to be more useful to the church of Christ; an ardent desire to preach for the sanctification of the saved and the salvation of the lost; and a clearer understanding of my dependency upon Christ in all things and his sufficiency to meet every need.

Plans: God has graciously opened a door for Jordan and me to return to Jacksonville where I will minster at Westminster Presbyterian Church. I hope to be ordained as an associate pastor in July.

* * * * *

Caleb Theodore Nelson, M.Div.

Hometown: Fort Collins, Colo.
College of Prior Degree: Patrick Henry College, Greenville Seminary
Spouse: Will marry Alexandria Myers on May 28

Memories of GPTS: In college, I felt very mature. I didn't waste money eating out, didn't stay up late, and earned a high GPA by spending lots of time on school, lots of time at church, and little time on everything else. Then I came to GPTS, where I was the youngest student for five of my six semesters. Suddenly, I felt like a kid again, and some of my favorite memories are of exploring the woods behind the seminary, wandering around the old mill, walking across the railroad trestle, and going down to the river to pray. I daresay I remain the only student to date who has overcome his fear of fire ants and free-range peacocks enough to take a sylvan nap in those same woods. At GPTS, too, I really learned not only how to commune with God, but that communing with Him is our reward and motivation. Ministry is about knowing Jesus better, letting go of one's dignity and just plain delighting. Working hard is good; playing in the woods is good; but knowing God is everything.

Plans: I am serving a year-long intern at First Church Merrimack (OPC) in Merrimack, N.H. Following our honeymoon, plan to pursue a call in the OPC and have lots of children. 

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Jesse Harrison Pickett, M.Div.

Hometown: Hilliard, Fla.
College of Prior Degree: Trinity Baptist College
Spouse: Kristin
Children: Harrison, Ella-Katherine, and Emalynn

Memories of GPTS: These past four years as a student of Greenville Presbyterian Seminary have been some of the most rewarding of my life. During that time, I have made lifelong friendships, grown in my love for the Word of God, come to appreciate the reformed standards and symbols more deeply, and received training which I trust will be used in service of Christ and His church for years to come. The theological education one receives at this institution is soundly exegetical, rigorously logical, unashamedly confessional, and pastorally practical. I am so grateful for GPTS and look forward to what God has in store for its future. By God's grace, may Greenville Seminary always be a place which builds on an old foundation, trains passionate preachers of the reformed faith, and holds fast the confession of our hope.

Plans: Lord willing, I will continue to serve as pastor of the church that God graciously allowed me to plant in 2012 — Grace Covenant Presbyterian in my hometown of Hilliard. If possible, I would like to help train young men in expository preaching at some point in the future as well as begin some kind of apologetical ministry by starting a public debate forum for different theological and Biblical issues.